The prison was on an island with vicious impenetrable jungle on one side and on the other, a 200 foot cliff that stood above a savage surf. The inmates called it the Freedom Jump.
No one had ever escaped from the island, but that didn’t mean it was impossible to find freedom. Death is, after all, a kind of freedom.
Ramone had managed to tunnel below the walls of the main prison and had made his way to the Freedom Jump. But he had a plan that involved something other than death.
In 250 words or less, tell us a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.
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7 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Freedom Jump”
Title: Leap of Faith
Noriega had falsely imprisoned him. He had endured the torture, but he knew he would surely die there if he didn’t escape.
The other prisoners’ words echoed in his head. ‘Ramone, you die like the others…nobody survive that Freedom jump…nobody!’
Even the dark night and faded white paint couldn’t hide the skull and crossbones at Freedom Cliff’s edge. That was his last warning.
He crossed himself and said a quick prayer. He wondered if Daniella would indeed understand his earlier note. All he wrote was he was going to be there to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary, which as best he could tell started an hour ago.
Although he was a former member of Acapulco’s Cliff Divers, he was uncertain he could survive diving at night at twice the height. He had no way of timing his jump and it would be God’s will if he survives his dive.
He knew he needed to clear the face of the cliff and raced as fast as he could toward the edge. He spotted the death symbol and dove into the black unknown. He felt the cold night air whip against his body. Seconds later he slammed into the frigid water.
Out of breath he struggled back to the surface. He had indeed survived. He looked around. There was no boat…she hadn’t understood.
Finally, he spotted a small boat and swam to it, and once inside. “Ramone you fool!”
“Not really…I just took a leap of faith…Happy Anniversary.”
Ramone heard the sirens. Someone must have ratted him out. That didn’t matter now. He was at the edge of the Freedom Jump. He just had to put everything together. He’d practiced it at least twenty times before after lights out. He’d hid it in the mouth of the tunnel during the day, patiently collecting parts as they came available, assembling it one piece at a time. But now, with the wind blasting and the wails of the prison alarm in his ears, his hands trembled. Digging the tunnel with a spoon, dealing with the prison bullies, and the formaldehyde fumes while working in the prison morgue – those couldn’t have been for nothing.
Overcast skies blocked the half-moon’s light. He knew he needed to use the glow stick. With a quick snap and a shake, an eerie blue illuminated his work. He took a deep breath, composed himself, and recalled building canoes back when he was a boy. He unrolled the eight-foot length and began methodically sliding the ribs into place.
When he was done, Ramone picked up his sail and began running forward. He prayed to the heavens as his feet left the earth. He angled the sail to catch the updraft just right. He gently splashed down. The dark, cold water sucked at him, but he was able to climb onto his floating sail. Ramone retrieved his makeshift oar and began paddling his way to freedom.
The clouds broke and Ramone could see his shadow against the raft. He checked the wax coating where he’d sealed the large patches of skin together. No one had even noticed he’d peeled them from the corpses’ backs, or that he’d removed their tibias for his supports.
Ramone was not like the others.
He tried to tell them: he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. When the police rounded him up along with the drug dealers on the village plaza, they couldn’t understand his language. So he signaled with increasingly frantic hand gestures, over and over. At first, they laughed at him. Then they got tired of his antics and beat him senseless.
The judge, too, refused to understand. He called Ramone a troublemaker, and sentenced him to the island prison from which no one had ever escaped alive.
Small and delicately built, Ramone was immediately targeted for every type of abuse his fellow prisoners could heap on him. Eventually, he learned to understand them, even if he could never reply. His silence earned him more abuse. And the guards simply stood by and watched. They considered him too pathetic to protect. Ramone knew they had a betting pool on how long he would survive in prison. The longest odds gave him half a year.
But Ramone was not like the others. He was a survivor. And he knew if he bided his time, he would be free.
So he endured the abuse in daylight, and dug his tunnel in secret. And when the day came – when he was absolutely sure – he left his cell and ran to Freedom Jump.
Ramone was not like the others. As the snarling dogs closed in on him, he simply unfurled his new wings, and flew away.
Ramone’s family, the flying Garibaldis were circus performers. The high wire was their bread and butter. But little was known of their life in Romania.
It was there that they spent much of their time climbing the mountains to strengthen their bodies for their circus work. As children they would climb the mountains, with and without equipment.
A climb down the Freedom Jump was child’s play for Ramone. The drop was far but he knew how to work through the fear that would come.
He was halfway down the rock wall before the klaxon alarms in the prison sounded. He was in the surf before the guards were looking down from the edge for his body. It was nothing for him to play possum at the bottom to through them off his trail.
When the coast was clear, he worked his way over the rocks. This was slow going, but he needed to get to the rendezvous point on the other side of the island. His cousin Gino had air dropped the raft for his trip back to the mainland, and it should be waiting for him.
The trip to the other side of the island took several hours. He managed it with little wear and tear on his body. The box from Gino was right where it was supposed to be. He rushed over to break it open.
“Took you long enough,” Antonio Garibaldi the warden had beaten him to the box.”
He had dreamed of making this jump for years and planned every minute detail. Nearing the ledge, he felt something change in the core of his being as his heart fluttered and his stomach did somersaults.
An ancient potion passed down from his grandmother was sure to work. He had tried it on the cockroaches that were everyday visitors to his cell and it had transformed them to butterflies just like his grandmother had predicted.
With a quick gulp from his flask, the honey flavored concoction burned as he swallowed it. He felt a warm fullness in his heart and with that, sprung from the ledge like an Olympic diver attempting to capture a gold medal.
As he spread out his arms into the oncoming sea breeze, the transformation of his body started to overtake him. Just a few feet from the rocks and to freedom, the change was complete.
Beautiful wings in shades of blue, black and yellow appeared where he once had arms and hands. He furiously flapped with all of the strength he could muster. But, not able to break the law of gravity, Ramone crashed into the jagged-edged boulders that lined the beach.
“Ramone! Dude, wake up!” Julio shouted.
“Man, you’ve been sleeping on the floor for hours, we thought you were dead.” His brother continued.
Ramone woke to the sweet taste of honey in his mouth and the familiar aroma of his grandma’s biscuits and gravy. Now to determine how to eat with wings …
Ramone stood at the edge of the cliff face peering over at the turbulent surf below. A gusty wind stung his face and even rocked him slightly as he positioned himself ready for flight.
He wasn’t afraid, whatever happened from this point didn’t really matter, dead or alive either way he would be free.
Two long hellish years it had taken him and in that time he’d endured more than any man should. Beatings, abuse, corruption and indignities he didn’t deserve as an innocent man. Ramone had planned and persevered, he had almost traded his soul for the chance to work in the sewing room, but it was worth it.
He had fashioned the garment from a tight-fitting boiler suit and stitched in the inserts which he had made from mail bags for double strength. Time well spent in the prison library reading up on wing-suits had convinced him this would work. Digging the tunnel had been the hardest and he’d almost given up.
Ramone looked skyward and whispered a short prayer then sprung up and over the edge spreading his arms and legs wide as he dove. He knew for every metre he dropped he gained 2.5 meters forward.
The crashing waves loomed nearer but just over half-way down a strong current caught him and lifted him higher.
He soared 100ft above the sea and zoomed ever onward at speed. It worked! He screamed with pure joy as the howling – wind propelled him towards freedom and another life.
“Quae me domum ad locum regione viarum.”
Ramone spoke the words of the spell as he ran, praying that the improvised components he had collected would work. Powdered rat liver just wasn’t the same as that from a hippogriff. Same went for the cockroach legs he had substituted for locust. But it was all he had.
Vines tangled his feet, sending him crashing into the hard packed dirt and rock. He muttered curses as the spell slipped from his grasp. Ignoring the lancing pain in his knees, he scrambled to his feet and continued to run. Only once had he seen the outside of the island prison, fifteen years ago when they had shipped him here, but he had heard plenty of stories through the years about the snake infested jungle and deadly cliff that sandwiched the place.
That same cliff loomed ahead. The other inmates called it the leap to freedom. Ramone had no more desire to die than he wished to rot in a dark stone cell. He wanted true freedom. It had taken years to dig a tunnel under the walls. Now his only hope lay in a handful of junk and a half remembered spell. Behind him the hounds closed in, close enough to hear their panting.
Grasping the last of the components, Ramone repeated the spell. This was his last chance.
“Quae me domum ad locum regione viarum.”
He leaped from the cliff’s edge just as the portal opened, disappearing into the void.
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